Saturday, December 06, 2008


Faith & Art

I posted this: My Faith. And art. over at the Faith & Art blog. Still processing.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Thanksgiving recap.

I hope you all had a really great Thanksgiving.  Lianne and the girls were with us and the rest of our immediate family at my parents house.  And most of the day was good.  It was just long.  And still so close to having lost Sam that things just felt odd.  I can't say, "we'll get used to it."  Because I don't think we will.  I know Lianne never will.

In an attempt to remember that we do still have things to be thankful for, here's my little recap of our weekend...

Wednesday evening I cooked turkey #1.  All 20 lbs of him.  Rusty carved him up and we stashed it in the fridge for the next day.  Thursday morning I cooked turkey #2 (a mere 12 pounder.)  He went to my parents house all in one piece.  By the time we left we had one carved turkey, one whole turkey, multiple pans of buttered egg noodles, cranberry-orange relish, stuffing and butter beans leaving the house with us, heading to my mom's for dinner with multiple family members.  It was yummy.

Friday morning I hauled my booty out of bed only so I could meet up with three friends from high school.  My WW posse, if you must know - Jen, Amer and Laurie.  Laurie was in town from KY and it was so good to see her.  We spent three hours at Panera and it was just so comfortable.  I forgot how nice it is to be around people who've known you your whole life.  I appreciated not having to explain the stuff with Sam... because they were living it as well.  I've known Jen since kindergarten and Laurie since first grade.  Amer came along in high school and we were best friends almost the moment we met.  I honestly love these women and cherish their friendship.

Friday night, Jen and Amer showed up to party down (a.k.a. order Chinese food and watch ELF though we ended up ordering the food and talking for five hours instead.)  Much needed talk.  

On Saturday, Rusty finally made his way home from his overnight of fun and somewhat inebriated frivolity at Chris and Derek's.  We took the boys out and picked out a Christmas tree!  I'm excited because in Maryland we always ordered a live tree from our church (Cedar Ridge spoiled us - every year our tree was beautiful!)  When we got here for some reason we put up an artificial tree that bugged me.  This year Rusty and I made the executive decision to go live again.  We picked up a beauty for cheap!

It's all lit up... old school.  

But we have yet to dig out the ornaments.  It's been a long few weeks... we'll get to it!  The candles are in the windows and other stuff is around so it's getting more and more festive every day.

Yesterday was my niece, Callie's, birthday party.  She turned three today.  She's a riot and a sweetheart and I'm so glad she's ours.  Lianne's house was full of shrieking girls and rowdy boys with my parents, the four of us kids with our spouses and our own kids running around like loons.  There was dancing (to the Wiggles.  The birthday girl requested it.) and hysterical laughter as we watched some of the grandkids bust a move elf style.  If I can embed it, I'll post it here.  It's cute.

Then today Sean was home with a sore throat.  Not strep, thankfully, as we were at the pediatrician's office this morning.  

But it was cold and then snowy so we came home and ate soup and watched it snow while I did laundry.

So there you go.  I know you all believe I live the life of a rock star (it's ok.  It's an understandable mistake, I'm sure.)  But that was our long weekend.  I didn't promise excitement, just a recap.  And if I owe you email or a phone call, have mercy and know that life is kicking our butts right now.  We'll get to it eventually...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

House update photos

Well, there's the front door. Four coats of paint. A new kick-plate and the door knocker is back in place. It looks so much better than it did a few months ago. And the red door/black shutters/white trim color scheme matches not only our Lakota East school district but also our University of Maryland Terps flag. There is balance in the force.

In other news, we finally got the family room painted. The only major thing left to do in there is to put up the crown molding. I'm not worried, it'll happen after the holidays.  Probably during the long, cold January when I'm banging my head against the wall out of frustration at the horrid weather. But now you can see more of what Brent did.  He's a rehab genius (and the guy can sing.)  I can't believe he's willing to be friends with two schmoes like Rusty and myself.

And yes, that is a cozy fire in the fireplace.  A fire that I built, while Rusty is away with Liam on the fourth grade trip to Camp Kern until Friday.  It's been cold and rainy all day.  I had no choice.

And this is our new Ikea purchase.

We needed something behind the sofa so the boys wouldn't put their foot through the back of it as they slide around the kitchen floor. And we need storage for the random hats, gloves, scarfs and shoes that are strewn about the entire first floor of our house. This was the best solution. The lamp on the side is not staying there.  There is also an oval, black framed mirror waiting to be hung above the fireplace but I'm too tired so there you go. 

P.S.  Notice the empty shelves.  I need to unpack some boxes in our storage area downstairs (some things I haven't seen since we packed to move to Maryland in 2003.)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Cake Wrecks, anyone?

Holy cow.  If you haven't read the Cake Wrecks blog and you're looking for something to make you laugh hysterically? Click the link.  To get the full appreciation for the author, go back to the archives and read from the beginning (May, 2008.)

I'm going to be making sure I take a more in-depth look at the bakery case at Kroger next time I'm there...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


I've been respectful.  I've been quiet.  I've not argued or belittled.  And I voted for Obama.  Because I believe he is a good man and he has good ideas.  I don't expect everyone to agree with me and I don't ask them to.  But I do ask that you quit sending the emails saying he's the anti-Christ.  Quit questioning my faith.  Or whether my Christianity is as valid as yours. It's one thing to disagree about politics. It's a whole other realm of wrong to start questioning someone's relationship with God.  I had hoped you knew me well enough to respect my decisions and know I make them with prayer and a lot of thought.  I'm not a poll number or a color on a map.  You know me.  So stop it.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

In this photo Sean is:
A.  Showing off his piratey hand-to-hand combat skills
B.  Reacting to Rusty's remark that real pirates don't carry smiley face pumpkins
C.  Playing air banjo
(Note: if you've ever met Sean then you won't be the least bit surprised to find out that the correct answer is C.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My life, in a nutshell.

So here it is, almost Halloween.  Which is evident by what's galavanting around my front lawn this week:

Personally, I'd rather see Captain Jack Sparrow take on Han Solo than Luke.  But that's just me (Luke's a whiner.  He just wants to go get some power converters!)  

Since the last time I posted something... September?!... things have been busy with soccer, having work done on the house by a friend of ours (Brent rocks) as well as doing work ourselves (crappily caulked front doors with rotting wood do not, in fact, rock.)  

Family room, in progress.  Brent put in recessed lighting in the family room and kitchen.  And he put built-in bookcases in the family room on either side of the fireplace.  He also framed-out and dry-walled the top half of the fireplace so only some of the ugly brick is now showing.  FYI, the shelves are not yet in the bookcases in this photo because this photo is old.

Front door, before we scraped out all the bad caulk and chipped paint.  

Front door, after we sanded, painted and re-caulked.  The new kick-plate and door knocker still need to be added.

Unfortunately after Brent did the lights and built-in's, we painted the built-in bookcases but still hadn't decided on a color for the brown walls.  Until now.  We decided on... brown.  

So painting and touching up all the brown walls will be happening this week.  And hopefully all the family room furniture currently in the dining room will move back into the family room.  I'm aiming for Christmas at this point.

Right about the same time, while trying to decide what the heck color to paint, I made new curtains for the kitchen and family room, to tie the new blue color into the existing kitchen color scheme*:

I took apart one of the old curtains and used them as patterns for the new ones.

One completed curtain using the Waverly fabric and a set of Ikea LENDA curtains 
(the other curtain is now completed and actually matches and is even and everything.)

In other news, three dear friends of mine and I have been battling the bulge with Weight Watchers since the end of the summer. Thankfully it's working! And though I'm thrilled about being in smaller sizes, it's the fact that my insulin resistance issues could go away that's getting me really into this process.

This is me.  Two sizes smaller than I was in 2005 when I last wore this dress when my youngest sister got married.

Then last week my mom got sick and we took her to the ER on Saturday where she was admitted to the cardiac unit overnight.  Turns out her heart is good.  But her case of bronchitis had gotten the best of her and kicked her booty while we weren't looking.  Thankfully, as of Sunday she's home and ok and just tired now.

So that about sums up my last month or so.  

*I now have a set of 2 brick red curtains, 2 khaki and brick red vertical striped curtains - all full length - along with four red and off-white patterned Waverly valances if anyone can use them (free!)  I can send you photos if you'd like.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Paul Newman

One Christmas when I was little, my cousins and I all received music boxes from my grandparents.  My music box played Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.  I was probably only six or seven years old but I loved that music box because I had big crushes on Paul Newman and Robert Redford after seeing part of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on TV (I'd have ridden my bike with either of them.)  Seriously, Paul Newman was the very definition of the term "Movie Star."  Now there's one less person with a soul and a conscience in Hollywood. 

Do yourself a favor and go watch Hud, or Coolhand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Hustler or even Cars (he was the voice of "Doc.")  Honestly, there are just too many great Paul Newman performances to name them all.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Biggest Loser.

So I am totally fascinated with this television program, The Biggest Loser (yes, thank you, I'm aware that I'm like four years behind the rest of the country.)  I'm not a huge TV watcher, and to be honest I've never watched a reality show aside from four episodes of the one where they were trying to find a new band member for INXS (I loved Jordis Unga then lost interest.)

I'm kind of working through my own theory of how some of the contestants on this show got to the point in their lives where they'd qualify for something like The Biggest Loser.  I mean, on the most basic level they're just eating too much and not exercising enough.  But there are some pretty intense family stories - divorce which found the mother taking two of her kids with her and the daughter that was left behind with the father felt she'd somehow done something wrong so she pretty much ate herself numb.  Or the woman who admitted that before her son was diagnosed with autism she weighed 135 but had fallen into a pattern of taking care of him then ending the day collapsing on the couch and eating whatever she could find.

Story after story, I just started thinking that for these people it happens to be eating.  And that eating brings about a very obvious result - gaining weight.  But many of them eat to deal with other issues, just like many alcoholics drink to forget their problems and many drug addicts are looking for escape.  Only for alcoholics and drug addicts it's easier to hide the tell-tale signs when they're not in action.  For people who eat, you can't "hide" the weight.  And no matter what you say, there is a certain shame to being seriously overweight in our culture.  

So I'm sitting here watching my laptop and crying like an idiot for these people who are so desperate for someone to help them.  The weight loss part is great.  But the connections they make with each other just shows how desperate many of them are to be accepted regardless of their weights.  

After two episodes I'm finding this show to be more a social experiment than a reality game show.  Though I did enjoy the slip 'n slide challenge they did (dude.  That just looked fun.)  I'm cheering for the pink team and the daughter Michelle specifically.  She's a beautiful girl but also seems to be really grounded and willing to figure out how to work her way out of the physical and emotional mess she's in.  Though being level-headed and calm probably means you'll get the boot for not generating more drama, eh?

And the two trainers make me laugh.  They're so mean when they yell at their teams but they almost seem apologetic when the talk about it later, explaining their motivation and feelings behind it.  No matter what she says, I'd probably pee myself if I ran into Jillian while eating a piece of cheesecake in a dark alley (me eating the cheesecake.  She apparently only eats steel and rocks.)(And not that I eat cheesecake in dark alleys.  I'm just sayin'.)

So that's my TV endorsement for the week.  Oh!  That and last week's Myth Busters where they put the phone books together page by page and it took two tanks to tear them apart (does that count as reality TV?) 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The hills are alive with the sound of generators (and chain saws!)

Wow!  Been a while since you've heard from me?  Blame Ike.  That's Tropical Storm Ike, to you.  Ike, who has no respect for the fact that Ohio is land-locked.  Ike, who blew through Cincinnati Sunday afternoon causing chaos and destruction in his wake.  Chaos!  Destruction!  Dogs and cats... living together... mass hysteria!  Also, we seemed to have lost our trampoline... oh, wait!  There it is!  In the neighbor's yard, sideways, stuck up against their playset (not sure that's the best position for maximum jumping enjoyment.)  Unfortunately, the trampoline frame was bent beyond repair.  RIP, poor trampoline*.  We hardly knew ye (we only had it a month!)

On Sunday we saw incredible acts of neighborly kindness, including neighbors helping Rusty taking apart said trampoline and getting into the garage before it was blown somewhere north of Middletown.  And we witnessed incredible acts of stupidity.  Including a neighbor on his roof in 40 mph sustained winds (with gusts up to 75 mph!)  


We also lost a neighborhood landmark: the "Bus Stop Tree."  The tree in our neighbor's yard where the kids stand to get on the bus.  The tree that sheltered them during light rain (never thunderstorms, though!) and from whose branches the kindergarteners swung while their moms chatted nearby.  The winds were so strong that they started to carry the broken tree down the street so at one point it had to be anchored with chains to keep it out of the road.

While I helped my neighbor rake up the smaller branches a few kids road by on their bikes and shared their condolences.  RIP, Bus Stop Tree.  Yet another victim of Ike's senseless violence.  Boo, senseless violence.

So Monday morning, still no power.  No problem, we have a grill.  We have coffee.  We'll make due (thank God for that camp coffee pot!)

And we listened to the battery-powered, early 90's radio as they read off school after school as closed for the day.  

Liam and Sean's school lost five or six trees, some siding off the portables, the roof off one of the baseball dugouts and a port-a-potty.  


Fast forward a few hours... here is my fridge.  Or more accurately, here is my fridge on Ike.  Late Monday morning and things started to get a little stenchy:

This?  This is my freezer on Monday night.  Twenty-eight hours or so after Ike knocked our power:

It was overcast Monday so we couldn't see much inside without the flashlights.  So we spent a lot of time outside.  Rusty was home from work and he and the boys took advantage of the down-time:

Monday night, still no power.  But see how pretty my condiments look by candlelight? 

The radio tells us that our county has declared a state of emergency, they're asking people to conserve water (and boil in places) and not be on the roads if possible.  Traffic lights are either not working correctly or are out altogether.  Power lines are hanging across some roads.  And a large group of our energy company's workers are out of town, in Texas, trying to help them get back online. 

I get word that my sister and my parents have power.  Our house, as well as my other sister and brother do not.  I live twenty minutes north of my sister and twenty minutes or so south of my brother, if that gives some sort of indication of how wide-spread the blackout was/is.

Then, Tuesday morning, 5:27 AM: the security system starts beeping... we have power!  Which is great.  Until you realize the power went off Sunday afternoon and everything that was on at that time is now on again.  Including Liam's bedroom lamp shining right in his face as he sleeps (as I quickly realized the possibility and raced in to shut it off before it woke him up!)  So I spent ten minutes or so going around the house turning off random lamps and ceiling fans.  I check the radio, school is once again closed, and I go back to bed.  I wake up to find Liam reading and Sean playing in his room.  Not bad.

Later Tuesday morning I decide to brave the possibility of crowds and head down to Kroger to see what I can find.  I figure if we have power back then they too must be back in business.  What I find is a grocery store that had to get rid of every frozen and refrigerated item in the store after a day on generator power.  I find empty coolers and shelves being disinfected by tired-looking employees.  I see shoppers looking dazed and rumpled.  It's kind of eerie to see all the empty shelves.

Rusty works from home... until early afternoon when the internet/phone goes out again.  We find something open for lunch and try to go to Target to pick up a prescription.  I mean, Target looks open.  And they are... but only in the most technical sense of the word.  They have emergency lights on (translation: every tenth light is lit.)  So if you can make your way around the store and find what you need in the semi-dark you can stand in one of two lines and buy something.  

Home again and our phone and internet are still out.  We hear from friends that their power is out and we invite them over to do laundry and be able to take showers.  We play lots of euchre and Texas Hold'em.  We find out school is again closed on Wednesday (today.) Friends and sister still without power as of an hour or so ago today.

So that's the latest.  No word yet on school tomorrow.  School districts across the area are having to cope with freezers and refrigerators full of spoiled food and milk, downed trees and blown off roofs and beat up portables.  Some bus routes are still blocked by trees and power lines and playgrounds have broken limbs and entire trees scattered across them.  Some districts have scattered power from building to building.  So we'll see.

We didn't mind the loss of TV or cable, actually.  We played games, read, and went to bed earlier than usual.  But we could have gone without the loss of an entire fridge and freezer full of food that will have to be replaced.  We're glad we can provide a place for friends to do laundry and hang out, but feel for them as they try to work their way through day three with no power.  For my sister, who has a two year old and a two month old, it's lost its novelty.  Gas stations are still randomly either not able to pump or out of gas.  And though things are still up in the air I think a lot of people have been able to keep perspective.  While it's frustrating, we realize we didn't bear the brunt of Ike and there are those who's lives have been much more deeply affected.  If anything, this has give us a deeper perspective on what it means when you hear "half a million people are without power tonight" on CNN.  

*We announce that trampoline will be replaced.  And there was much rejoicing.  Ye, verily.

Monday, September 08, 2008

School Recap: Week One

The boys are exhausted and cranky.  The end.

Ok, so today didn't start out so great and I'll be waiting to hear from Liam, especially, how his day went.  He meets with the school psychologist today for the first of his weekly get-togethers (this is the one replacing the woman he met with last year who is currently on maternity leave.)  I have to talk with her after to discuss his language processing stuff.  Specifically the fact that just in the last week he's gotten a lot worse in his starting a sentence then stopping, starting over, pausing and eventually getting really frustrated because he can't get his thoughts into words the way he wants to.  

We talked with his therapist last spring about this.  The problem is figuring out what kind of testing and/or therapy would address his needs.  The school offers speech therapy, but his speech is fine.  He can pronounce his words and sounds with no problem.  It's getting the thoughts into words... there seem to be some overlapping therapies that may address some of those issues but we're having a hard time finding something to address that specific issue; how to help his brain better connect to his mouth.

For my teacher and counseling friends, feel free to offer any ideas.  This is something we've been trying to work on for a few years now and as he gets older it gets more and more noticable that the other kids his age and in his class have a much easier time with their words.  And that bothers him.  

Please know, this is not a "crisis."  This is the nature of the stuff he deals with.  We figure out a way to adapt and move on to the next challenge.  Some things are not a challenge at all so it's not like his identity is wrapped up in having these issues.  But the flip side of that is that we want to help him continue to adapt so other people don't start to identify him strictly by his issues.  Liam is such a phenominal kid.  I refuse to let anyone slap a label on him and think they've got him figured out.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Because I said I would post them for you...

Dear Colin, Maggie and Denim,

Here are some of the beach pictures.  You can click on the link at the bottom to see the rest!



That's my crabby face.


The pier at right before sunset

Sean was having smiley issues.  Liam was fixing it for him.

The rest of the pictures are here: Ocean City, Maryland pictures
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